Piepkorn on "Why still be a Lutheran?"

Pastor Weedon has blogged on a piece of writing from proto “evangelical catholic” Lutheran theologian Rev. Dr. Arthur Piepkorn. The piece, called “Why still be a Lutheran?” was written in 1965, and, as Pastor Weedon acknowledges, a lot of water has flown under the Lutheran bridge since then. I could add that the river under the Catholic bridge hasn’t been frozen solid since then either…

Personally, I think the question that any self-respecting Lutheran should ask themselves every day is “Why am I not a Roman Catholic?” That at least is a question which hones Piepkorn’s question to a fine point. Just ask Peter Holmes!

Nevertheless, the points Piepkorn makes are interesting to consider (My comments in [bold]):

Lutherans should seek to witness to Rome:

* That nothing should be allowed in teaching or practice that obscures Christ’s saving work. [Granted. Mind you, even from our Catholic point of view, if our teachings or practices obscure Christ, it is not a problem with our teaching or practices in themselves, but that we are not teaching or practicing them properly!]
* The primary authority of Scripture in determining dogma and doctrine. [No problem with this either. Catholics have always regarded Scripture the primary authority in determining dogma and doctrine–just not the ONLY authority]
* A clear distinction between what is of human institution and what divine in matters of church government. [This can be granted too–however Piepkorn probably assumes a little naively that the distinction can always be clearly made, since the Church as the body of Christ led by the Spirit of God is simul humanus et divinus]

Lutherans would seek to witness to other Protestants:

* The role of the Church as interpreter of the Scriptures. [This is not so much a specifically Lutheran trait, as a Catholic emphasis that Lutheranism has, in some quarters, retained]
* The importance of the church’s historic dogmas and the necessity of holding a true confessional position [Ditto for the above].
* the true meaning of the sacraments and their central place in the Church’s life as acts of God. [Ditto for the above]

So one is led to conclude, that there is little here that distinguishes the unique witness of Lutheranism from the unique witness of Catholicism.

So, Lutherans: “Why still be a Lutheran? Why are you not a Catholic?”

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3 Responses to Piepkorn on "Why still be a Lutheran?"

  1. Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. says:

    Because we believe in following the Word of God rather than the traditions of men that you Romanists follow.

  2. Christine says:

    Because we believe in following the Word of God rather than the traditions of men that you Romanists follow.

    Right. That’s why we have multitudinous forms of Protestant/Evangelical Christianity since the Reformation, all “following the Word of God”, not to mention cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses that don’t even accept the divinity of Christ.

  3. Past Elder says:

    What — as opposed to the harmonious unity of faith and practice from following one’s apostolic successors one finds in the Roman church?

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